The Rochester Americans tied a franchise record tonight with their 11th straight win with the defeat of the Hamilton Bulldogs by the final score of 4-1. Excellent effort by the Amerks team all night. The offense did what it had to. The defense played strong. The goal tending was again spectacular. It was a TEAM effort.
Hamilton has been on a hot streak themselves. Prior to tonight’s game they had only lost one game in regulation and none on the road. The game was set to be the first real test for the Amerks this season.
Jordan Henry agreed saying, “We were looking forward to this game and kind of had it marked on the calendar as a big test.”
Asked about what the winning streak means Chris Taylor said, “It means that we keep going and trying to get better. We had some good spots and not so good.”
One of the defining moments of the game was the successful 5 on 3 penalty kill the Amerks had in the second period. Salak stood on his head making some great saves and Chris Taylor and David Brine were equally as strong. Once the penalty kill was over the standing ovation was a great moment and something that Chris Taylor said was heard and appreciated.
When you go down for two minutes and are able to kill it that shows your goalie is sharp, guys were blocking shots, a lot of commitment there,” Amerks coach Benoit Groulx said. “That was the turning point of the game.”
“You’re not going to win without great goal tending and that’s what we’ve had all year,” Taylor said.
What lead to the Amerks being short handed is worth mentioning as well. Rory Fitzpatrick had put his stick in the face of a Bulldogs player as they got mixed up near the blue line. The Bulldogs stepped up and tried to get into Fitzpatricks face but Mike Duco did what he’s supposed to in that situation, he stepped into the middle of it. Fitzpatrick went to the box for high sticking and Duco for unsportsmanlike conduct.
Jordan Henry put the Amerks on the scoreboard first with a fluke goal of sorts. He took his shot, it bounced off a Bulldogs stick, went high in the air, and then dropped just behind Cedrick Desjardins who misplayed the puck. After the goal light went on Desjardins looked at his glove as if it had a hole in it.
One of the great things about this team is that they take what they get but they’re not satisfied. They’re not playing perfect hockey. The team is still making mistakes, but when you win they’re not as obvious.
Jordan Henry pointed that out tonight saying, “I had enough good chances before that where I should have scored.”
Jamie Johnson scored his 5th of the season off of an excellent pass from Mike York at 6:15 of the second period. That pass showed off the experience that York has. He passed the puck through three opposing players to Jamie Johnson in front of the net who was able to shoot the puck high glove side to score what would turn out to be the game winning goal.
The third goal by Graham Mink was all about the patience of Evgeny Dadonov. Dadonov took the puck from the top of the face off circle and went speeding down the side boards. Dadonov patiently waited as Bulldogs defender Alex Henry went down to the ice and he then centered the puck to Graham Mink. Desjardins saved the initial shot but Mink was able to follow through on his own rebound to put the puck in the net.
“Dadonov has the 90% of the talent on our line, the other 10% we just try and give him the puck,” Chris Taylor said talking about his line mates Evgeny Dadonov and Graham Mink.
“They just seem to find each other,” Groulx said talking about the Amerks top line. “There’s a good mix of different skills.”
The Bulldogs scored their only goal at 3:22 of the third period. David Desharnais sent a perfect pass to Mike Glumac who was able to score into an empty net.
Chris Taylor finished off the scoring in the game at 8:40 of the third by tipping a Jordan Henry shot into the net for his fourth of the season.
And with that the Amerks have now won their 11th straight, tying a franchise record. Alexander Salak is a perfect 9-0 with a 1.65 GAA and 0.947 save percentage.
“We knew it was going to be a tough game for us tonight and we’re happy to have this one behind us heading to Buffalo,” Groulx said. “It’s an opportunity for us to write our own history.”
The Amerks next game is on Thursday in Buffalo against the Portland Pirates at HSBC Arena. The story line is evident. The Amerks and Sabres had a nasty divorce. Now the Amerks are hot, the Pirates are not. The Amerks are going into Buffalo’s arena with hopes of breaking a franchise record winning streak.
“It’s going to be a special game but at the end of the day it’s two points” Groulx said about the game. “We’re going there for two and if we have the record even better.”
“It’s kind of ironic but what better place to do it,” Chris Taylor said. “It doesn’t even feel like we’re going on the road. I think we should be playing on pretty even ground so it’s up to us to come out and play a good game.”